Having chosen our strain, and set up a stellar grow room, it’s now time to look at the mechanics of growing. The two techniques we’ll focus on here are growing with clones and growing with seeds. If you are looking to replicate a known strain, then clones are a surefire way to go. If, however, you’d like to experiment with your strain, seeds will be the best option.
So what do we mean by clone and seed, exactly?
Well, a clone is a piece of an existing plant that is cut off and planted to replicate the strain. This growth process is referred to as vegetative propagation. When the nutrition, water, and other requirements are met, the clone will grow roots of its own and mature.
As for seeds, well, they happen when the birds meet the bees. Genes from male plants mix with genes from female plants via pollen, and the result is a seed. You can think of a seed as analogous to a fertilized embryo or egg in an animal species. Just like animal embryos need certain conditions to gestate, so it goes with seeds (That’s where soil, water, temperature, Mozart, etc. come in). Also, just like gestation in animals, these plants will carry some of the traits of their parents, but will not be exact clones. Thus, with seeds experimentation and strain variation are possible.
How To Grow Clones
Using cones sounds like a terrible/awesome sci-fi phrase, depending on your taste, but rest assured both points of view will be satisfied with the process. If the sci-finess of a phrase like “the cloning process” gives you the willies, fear not. It’s not nearly as complicated as a quantum-flux ion hyperdrive. It’s basically cutting off a piece of a parent plant, putting it in a grow medium (such as coconut fiber), adding water, and waiting.
On the other hand, if you want the sci-fi metaphor, think of plant cells as superhero cells that have the ability to turn into whatever they need to be (e.g., roots). If cut and replanted correctly, a piece of the parent plant will turn into a fully mature, genetically identical replica of the parent. This is important for preserving all of the effects of that parent strain, and it’s why cloning is the most popular method of propagation.
- Razor blade (Make sure it’s sharp!)
- A container (plastic or glass), and a growing medium.
- Watering system (spray bottle or plastic dome).
- Isopropyl alcohol.
Before You Begin:
- Make sure you keep one mother plant. This way you’ll always have a genetically sound backup.
- Choose a healthy specimen of the strain you desire. Make sure it’s got the traits you want to replicate, and that it’s free of disease.
- Keep the mother plant well watered for at least two to three days prior to cutting the clone. This will flush the nitrogen, making it easier for the clone to take root.
- Distilled water should be used, along with a proper grow medium, such as coconut fiber, or Rockwool or Oasis cubes.
- Sterilize everything prior to cutting, including your blade, the cutting block, and your hands. The clone will be susceptible to infection at the cut site, so keeping it sterile is paramount.
- When choosing growing tips, look for a branch with a couple of multi-leaf internodes. They should be about three to six inches, and you should cut a few so that you have a better chance of a higher yield.
The first thing to remember is that the cut is delicate. It’s best to put a hole into your growing medium before making your cut. You want to work quickly, but gently, and make sure to spray the cut with water if it is going to take more than a brief moment between cutting and planting.
Once the clone is secure in the growing medium, you need to keep it moist. You don’t want too much water because that can lead to mold or other types of fungus. A spray bottle with some distilled H2O will ensure that your growing medium stays damp. Make sure to water it every two days, but don’t let it get dry. A plastic dome can add support and humidity.
As discussed in the previous section, lighting is important, too. Dappled sunlight is good, or if that’s not possible, use a balanced light spectrum grow light.
It should take about a week for roots to form. At that time, you should remove the plastic dome to see if the plants can stand on their own. The key is to be patient and make sure they’re well-rooted before removing any yellow leaves or transplanting them into a hydroponic or soil setup. And that’s all there is to making a clone – see, sci-fi’s for everyone!
How to Grow With Seeds
As mentioned above, seeds allow for genetic variation and experimentation. They are available from seed banks and will grow similarly to any other seed you plant. If you’re new to growing things, though, the following should help you out a bit.
First, your growing medium should be sterile to avoid fungus and should have sufficient depth to support a root system. Soak your seeds for a couple of hours before planting them in the growing medium. As with the clones, the key is to keep the growing medium moist, not wet, and of course, you’ll want to give them plenty of light and make sure they’re warm enough. After about a week, you should start seeing sprouts, with all of the seeds coming up after a couple of weeks.
As for fertilizer, you’ll want to wait until the plants are growing well before using any if desired.
Above all, be patient. Don’t touch your cuttings. Don’t “check on” your seeds. Let nature do its thing, and you’ll have some great plants in no time.